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Santorum Attacks Romney on Birth Control Amendment

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(ATLANTA) -- Rick Santorum clobbered Mitt Romney in Atlanta Thursday for an interview the former Massachusetts governor did the day before in which Romney seemed to say he did not support an amendment that would try to curtail the Obama administration’s new requirements on contraception coverage.

The Romney campaign quickly clarified Wednesday that the candidate does support the amendment, that he was just confused by the way the reporter phrased the question. Yet Thursday at a rally Santorum said it offers “insight into what’s in the gut of Governor Romney.”

The amendment, which was sponsored by Republican Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt and was voted down Thursday in the Senate, would have rolled back the Obama administration’s controversial requirement that all institutions providing health insurance -- including Catholic universities and hospitals -- must cover contraception, including emergency contraception.

“Having a conscience-clause exemption used to be something that Democrats and Republicans all agreed to. Now it’s not. When Governor Romney was asked that question, his knee-jerk reaction was, ‘No, I can’t be for that,’” Santorum said at an airplane hangar rally in front of about 150 people. “And then after his consultants talked to him, he came back and said, ‘Oh, I didn’t understand the question.’… I tell you if I was asked a question like that, my gut reaction would be always, my gut reaction would be, you stand for the First Amendment. You stand for freedom of religion.”

He told the audience in this Super Tuesday state, which holds the most delegates, that they need a nominee who “at their core beliefs is going to step up and fight, not put them on the backburner and just focus on one or two things that may be popular, like cutting taxes.”

During an interview with the Ohio News Network on Wednesday, Romney said he did not support the proposal that would allow employers to opt out of providing coverage for birth control if they disagreed with it. Thursday in North Dakota he said he was “in favor” of the amendment.

“Look, the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a woman, husband and wife, I’m not going there,” Romney told the reporter.

Santorum told the Georgia voters Thursday that he wants to do well in every Super Tuesday state. “Georgia needs to be part of that,” Santorum said. He spent the rest of Thursday campaigning in Washington state ahead of its caucus on Saturday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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